Super League could expand to 14 teams sooner than originally expected, admits IMG chief

Aaron Bower
Super League Ball

Super League ball - Alamy

Super League could expand to 14 teams sooner than originally expected, according to IMG’s Matt Dwyer following the revealing of rugby league’s provisional gradings on Wednesday.

Seven clubs have secured the highest grade of A in IMG’s dry-run for the system, which will go live and take full effect next year.

Those clubs are Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, St Helens, Catalans Dragons, Warrington Wolves, Hull KR and Hull FC. IMG had originally envisaged fewer clubs than that reaching the highest bracket, with Dwyer stating a year ago the feeling was around four clubs would secure Category A status.

And he admitted that with more clubs securing more points than envisaged, the door is ajar for Super League to go to 14 clubs sooner than first planned.

Super League may be growing soon, admits IMG chief

IMG are believed to be considering an expansion when all 12 top-flight clubs reach Category A, of which 15 points is needed out of the maximum 20.

And Dwyer said: “I think we’ve said before that I don’t want to speculate on when we’d be in a position to do that, but we’ve been clear on our position.

“Objective one is to have 12 category A clubs, and objective two is to expand the size of the league. It probably has accelerated things a bit because we’re closer to having 12 Category A clubs than we thought we would be.”

There is a clear gap between the clubs in 14th and 15th on the provisional gradings. 14th-placed Bradford are one of five clubs going all the way up to 10th who score between 12 and 13 points: while 15th-placed Featherstone score fewer than 11 points. And Dwyer continued: “Some of the improvements we’ve seen from clubs over the last 12 months show that some clubs aren’t far below those seven Category A clubs, too, and it’s not unreasonable for them to have Category A status in the near future.

“I guess the answer is yes, it does accelerate it and that’s a pleasing thing to see because of how the clubs have responded to this and how they’re looking to change and grow.”

READ NEXT: First IMG gradings as clubs learn fate; Leeds Rhinos lead the way, Super League outfit appeal verdict